The added flights also include resuming service to Tahiti.

By Alison Fox
July 01, 2020

United Airlines is boosting its flight offerings this summer, adding nearly 25,000 more flights to its schedule in August compared to July, even as the airline continues to see ebbs and flows in demand.

Domestically, United will resume flying 50 routes from July to August, the company shared with Travel +Leisure, including doubling the number of flights from its Newark Liberty International Airport hub. United will also increase connectivity at their mid-continental hubs in places like Chicago, Denver, and Houston.

United Airlines plane
Credit: Courtesy of United Airlines

“We will be extremely flexible from moving our capacity from places we are seeing demand go down… and place our flights in states where we see an uptick in demand,” Ankit Gupta, the vice president of domestic network planning, said on a call with reporters on Wednesday, adding, “For the Fourth of July holiday we have seen quite a bit of demand.”

The schedule comes as the carrier has made a point of not limiting capacity on flights and has pledged to return to China next week after a monthslong suspension. It also comes as American airports have seen an increase in traffic, according to Transportation Security Administration data.

In addition to China, United said international demand has increased for leisure travel to places like Cancun (which reopened to tourists last month). United said it would also reinstate service to Tahiti in French Polynesia, which will look to welcome international tourists later in July and is one of the countries Americans can travel to this summer.

At the height of COVID-19, Patrick Quayle, the vice president of international network and alliances, said United had cut about 95 percent of its international schedule. In August, that will rebound slightly with the airline expecting to fly about 25 percent of its typical schedule.

“It’s been a gradual ramp up,” Quayle said. “I can’t think of a more perfect destination to socially distance than a bungalow in Tahiti.”

United is also adding service between Chicago, Brussels, and Frankfurt, as well as resuming service between Newark, Brussels, Munich, and Zurich, and between San Francisco and London.

“Any loosening of that will only get better and will only increase demand,” Quayle said about restrictions with Europe. “We’re matching supply with demand.”

As the airline bumps up its schedule, United has doubled down on its mask-wearing policy, pledging to temporarily ban passengers if they refuse to wear one, and has required customers to disclose their health status as part of the check-in process.

When it comes to the number of people on planes, rather than limit capacity as some other U.S. airlines have done, United will continue its policy of notifying customers 24 hours before a flight if that plane is likely to be full and give them the option to either choose a different flight or receive a travel credit. That policy went into effect after a photo of a full flight went viral, generating backlash.

“Even as we have had to dramatically change and adjust many of our policies and protocols… we have continued to put safety first,” Josh Earnest, the airline’s senior vice president and chief communications officer, said. “If you want to stay safe on an airplane you need to wear a mask, the airplane needs to have good filtration… we’ve been doing that for a while now.”